A week in the Rainbow Tai Chi School by Liza Disselhorst
Since 1,5 years now I have been living in the Rainbow Tai Chi Chi Kung school in Devon, UK. For me it has been one big journey that is still happening, and happilizing. So many times though I get the question what living here is like and what I am actually doing here. As I am in the midst of the so called ‘April intensive’ now, studying for one month full time Rainbow Tai Chi Chi Kung with 15 fellow students, I would love to do my best to share with you what a week in this school is like. This also connects to the summerschool 2017, which is a 9 day course in the summer. This summerschool is for anyone who is interested to learn more about Rainbow Tai Chi Chi Kung, with or without experience, for all ages. With this article I hope first of all to give you a glimpse of what studying here is like, and also how I have discovered this to be the true education for me.
Let me start shortly by sharing what education has been for me before I got to know the Rainbow Tai Chi Chi Kung school. I have always been a ‘good’ and serious student, from primary school to secondary school into university. I got good grades, enjoyed studying, and graduated from University in 2011. By then I had spent about 24 years of my life building a lot of mental knowledge and skills in these schools. Studying in the Rainbow Tai Chi Chi Kung school is different though, and I had to start all over it felt. The Rainbow Tai Chi way starts with developing the heart, the emotional ‘body’ first; learning to feel what you feel, allowing that to be as it is, to open up and be forgiving and accepting, towards yourself first of all. I am a psychologist by profession, and I have seen that this way of learning makes real healing on all levels possible. It has made me want to learn all about this way of healing and living, and so I have been studying at the Rainbow Tai Chi Chi Kung school since 2014.
Community living, helping each other to grow, unconditional loving acceptance
Time to slow down and turn within
The fact that we start from the heart is also where community living comes in. Like right now I am living with 15 other people, from my age but also my parents age. We share all our living space together, eat together, smell each others farts but foremost have found a new way of living together, where the world leaders could learn a lot from. There is no place for blaming or getting upset with each other, as we all first look inward to see how we can learn from every situation. This is part of the red colour of love, combined with the blue colour of truth, peace and clarity, which creates wisdom. To be able to live like this we first slow down and take a moment to see what it is that is happening inside.
Unconditional loving acceptance is something that I have missed a lot in my work as a psychologist and what is such a gift in this school. Anybody who comes here is being seen as a student that comes to learn and grow, not as a patient. Like in this month we also have had a young girl coming to the school for a weekend retreat, who was very scared and panicky since a young age, and had to take medication to be able to get through the day. With the help of Master Choy and the group she walked out smiling, radiating and relaxed. And this is just one example.
I had to let go a lot of diagnoses, treatments, and other book knowledge that I had gathered over the past years. I used to have a very heavy head, literally, my neck had troubles carrying my head around, serious! But here I started to let go of all that ‘knowing’ and first of all to get to know me, before helping anyone else. I have been surprised by how many parts of myself I have and how they all just long for unconditional loving acceptance.
The Rainbow Tai Chi and Chi Kung exercises
What I spend an important part of my day with, is practicing the 15 fundamental Tai Chi and Chi Kung exercises. These are not just physical exercises, but you can see them as ‘tools’ to find your original happy, peaceful you. As if you go back to your original blueprint, transform negative feelings into positive and creative ones, find balance and a happier you. I practice them every day, and I am always amazed by the change that happens in myself. I can be quitegrumpy in the morning, and wake up with lots of worries, but after having gone through all the exercises I face the world with a (sincere) smile and peaceful energy. There is no such thing as ‘knowing’ these exercises, as they bring me back to this moment and myself, which is constantly changing.
Tao of self humour, joy
I have probably never laughed as much in my life as the past weeks, and before that the past years. Every class of Master Choy is one with so many jokes, that you cannot help but fall from your chair with laughter sometimes. I used to take myself very serious, had a jacket with shoulder pads to make myself look even more serious in my job, and wrinkles between my eyes of all the frowning. On the other hand I enjoyed jokes of other people, and always wanted to feel and be ‘lighter’ as I didn’t perceive myself as funny at all. I did not realize that the way to more lightness was for me to go through the ‘dark’ in the first place; a lot of unconditional loving acceptance was needed before I really started to feel comfortable in being myself. The tao of self humour means you are able to laugh about yourself. And to make other people happy just by being you!
Growing organic vegetables with loving care
This is the part that I love so much. The past weeks we have helped Christine Chin, the wife of Master Choy and an amazing gardener and cook, to plant the first little vegetable plants in the polytunnels and the green houses in the gardens. Right now we already planted at least a hundred cabbages, tomatoes, potimarrons and garlic plants, and there is a lot more to come. For 10 years I have lived in Amsterdam and the closest thing to interacting with mother nature then was going for a walk in the ‘Amsterdam Forest’ or watering my little house plant (which 9 out of 10 times would die within a month). Now I love to spend time every day in watering the flowers and the plants, appreciating their beauty and amazing willingness to grow, and learn from them.
A less romantic but even more inspiring part is what the plants ‘eat’; compost! Last week we have picked up a trailer full of composted horse shit, to give to the beautiful baby plants. Even digging shit can be fun with such an amazing group of people :). We also make our own compost in the Rainbow Tai Chi school, with our own human shit. Not only the physical, but also the emotion shit; irritations, anger, sadness, insecurities etc we let go onto this beautiful big compost heap. We even thank our shit (and that is not a joke)!
The best part of all this is that all the vegetables we grow are being harvested and eaten during the summerschool! Christine makes the most tasty healthy vegan food ever out of the vegetables we have energized with our love along the way. Salads come fresh out of the ground right before we eat them, mouthwatering! 🙂
Chi healings, zhineng chi kung
Apart from eating we also take good care of our bodies in other ways. An important part of this April intensive is also to learn the physical healing aspect of Rainbow Tai Chi; the Zhineng chi kung and Chi healing. Chi is the Chinese word for life force, or energy, and is what we connect to in all the Rainbow Tai Chi Chi Kung exercises. In Zhineng chi kung this energy is used for healing physical pains and aches, which is widely known and respected in China. We believe that the body wants to heal itself, and we just connect to and direct this healing energy where it needs to go. The energy is always available to everyone, we just have to slow down enough and be empty enough to be able to feel it. It has taken me a long time to experience this, but as I feel and see it working now, I am so thankful to learn this natural way of healing. A few days ago one of my fellow students has healed herself from Tinnitus, after having had it for months. During the summerschool there will also be Chi healings being given daily.
The Octagon, helping the countries to find unity in diversity
Last but not least we are working towards a better world. Not by sitting on (Pitley) mountain and meditating, as some people think we do, but in a very practical way. I have always wanted to help the world become a safer and more peaceful place, who doesn’t, but apart from giving money to charity have never felt a real way of contributing.
Since December I have been building on a new project in the Rainbow Tai Chi school, called the ‘Octagon’. An eight sided building, in accordance with Taoist geometry, designed by my friend, fellow student and carpenter Andy. We started with making the base, having no idea what it would be like. Step by step we built it up, making a big huge roof, all of beautiful timber, without a center pole to support it all! I have used tools that I had never seen before, like a monster drill that needed a second person to hold it as it was so heavy. But most of all it was just good fun to make such a special building with a dedicated group of people, and now it is finally finished!
It has become a very special place, called the Rainbow Tao Temple, where all the flags of all the nations of the world are hung up (more than 200). All the flags have the yin yang tao sign in the middle, standing for a search for unity in the positive and negative qualities of every nation. As we all have negative and positives, so does a country. By bringing them together it is possible to find unity in diversity, instead of duality and fights between the countries as is happening right now. It might sound far fetched, but we all feel connected in some way or another to certain countries, and how beautiful is it to be able to give something back to a country. Like I have been to Burma and Cambodia on some of my travels years ago, and felt so much compassion for the people there and for their history full of suppression. I now have a place where I can tune into these two amazing countries and practice the second Tai Chi fundamental of bringing together their positive and negative qualities or feelings, and in that way find peace inside.
On the 26th of this month there is a special opening of the Rainbow Tao Temple, and you are invited to come! It is a free evening, open to everybody, and the mayor of Ashburton will be present, as well as James and Bob the cat (known from the books and movie ‘Bob the cat’). http://www.rainbow-taichi.org.uk/free-invitation-to-opening-ceremony-of-the-rainbow-tao-temple/
This is in a nutshell what we connect to in this special school, especially the past weeks. There is a lot more to tell about it, but if you are interested to learn more there is an amazing opportunity to join the summerschool this summer. It is like a learning holiday where all the above ‘ingredients’ are present, and a beautiful way to start changing old habits and patterns that need to be let go. If you are interested, feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or any of my fellow students, or Master Choy. There is also more information on the website; http://www.rainbow-taichi.org.uk/course/summer-school-part-one/
Thank you for being you!